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Felipe Massa extended his career in Formula 1 for at least a year to replace Mercedes bound Valtteri Bottas in the Williams team, and with it partner 18 year old billionaire rookie Lance Stroll in the team.
The young Canadian had a baptism by fire during his first official Formula 1 test, binning it twice and costing the team a full day of testing last time out in Spain.
But Massa sees Stroll’s induction as part of the learning curve and told Globo, “Calm down people, it was his first experience with the car. The boy is only 18 years old. I was also 18 once, I know, I’ve been through it.”
During the first test in Barcelona, Massa did 103 on the first day in the cockpit, while Stroll only managed 12 laps before beaching the car and damaging the front wing on the FW40. With no spare at hand the team had to cut short their day.
On the third day Stroll had a much better showing with 98 laps on his chart before he crashed heavily in Turn 9, damaging the monocoque and costing the team running on the final day, thus denying Massa a second day of testing.
Despite the mishaps and loss of valuable track time the veteran Brazilian sees the positives from the test, “At least the problems are not because we are having difficulties with our car, but for other reasons.”
Stroll’s father, clothing billionaire Lawrence Stroll, has bankrolled his son’s path to Formula 1, including a reported $20-million testing campaign with a 2014 Williams.
In Barcelona Stroll has a luxury motorhome with every need catered for a by full time staff at his disposal, in other words the youngster lacks for nothing as he embarks on his rookie season.
The Canadian said of Massa’s role within the team, “I think mentor is the wrong word. He’s here pushing for himself as much as anyone is pushing for themselves.”
“Him and myself are going to help the team move forwards as much as possible. I know him from our days in Ferrari and he’s an open guy, he’s a team player.” Stroll explained. Full report here>>>
As for the pecking order after the first test, Massa ventured, “The impression I got was that we were after Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, although Renault has progressed a lot.”
Massa was teammate to Fernando Alonso for five years at Ferrari and admits he feels for the Spaniard who is struggling with the problem packed McLaren-Honda package.
He said of McLaren in Spain, “They started again, with difficulties. I can imagine how Alonso is feeling, it’s not easy, I know him well.”
Massa will line up on the grid for the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, on 26 March for his 251st Formula 1 start. He made his debut at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.